They had me at graffiti. They kept me with this heartbreaking/uplifting story.
Rory is the town’s secret vandal. She’s been tagging lions under the cover of night, somehow dodging the watchful eye of her sergeant father who’s forbidden her from art. She’s remained anonymous until Hayes catches her one evening, but instead of turning her in, he turns her into his own personal tour guide. It’s definitely blackmail, but Rory sees an opportunity to complete her magnum opus – painting a lion on top of the town’s water tower.
This is definitely a compelling story that tackles several sensitive topics. Hayes is recovering from an addiction, so it’s quite interesting to see how how he comes to terms with the damage he’s done to others near him and how he tries to put his life back together in a new place. Rory initially seems like an angsty teenager who just wants to rebel for the sake of being combative. Her fractured relationship with her suspicious father and near idol-worship of her artist mother factor prominently. It’s not immediately clear why her father is so adamant that Rory not indulge in art anymore, but once it’s revealed in a significant plot twist, there is a new depth to the entire story that also clarifies Rory’s motivations.
Generally, I found Rory and Hayes to have been well-developed characters. Crompton held back pieces of their story until later in the book that definitely changed how I viewed the two. Rory definitely became more robust as the book continued, and her network of friends/family began to feature more prominently. I also appreciated that the reactions of everyone seemed to be genuine and believable. There wasn’t always an immediate “happy ending” to each conflict, which felt apt for this story.
Aside from the vandalism, this story includes the usual romantic undertones, both for Rory and Hayes as well as other characters. Rory is dealing with so much personally, that she actually comes across as messy in how she deals with people. She teeters between inconsiderate and naive in regards to what she asks of people and how she balances her relationships. I often found that when things went wrong for her, it was because she’d failed to see that others react to what she gives them. She often jumped to conclusions, but had little sympathy when others did the same to her.
Overall, I recommend Love and Vandalism. Its main plot is engaging, but even the subplots have some humor to balance out how emotional of a story this is.
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3 Finished copies of Love and Vandalism, provided by Sourcebooks Inc.
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